September 2010 archive

Lazy Labor Day Miscellanea

Lazy Labor Day Miscellanea

Normally this would be a Lazy Sunday post, but as I actually did a book review yesterday, and today is a holiday, we’ll fudge it just a little. Here’s some miscellanea:

#32: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Guardian Of The Dead by Karen HealeyThis is a really good book. It’s YA fantasy that takes place in New Zealand and centers around New Zealand’s native mythology. Healely went out of her way to make the cast diverse and inclusive — including characters of color and characters with non-hetero sexualities — and she also went out of her way to be respectful of the mythology she used. (Well, okay, that shouldn’t be going out of her way, that should just be How Things Are Done, but sadly, that often isn’t true. Either way, she wrote a really interesting blog post about working with cultural consultants.)

Since this is YA fantasy, of course, you may be expecting a link to a full review over at Active Voice… and there is one, but I didn’t write it. It just seemed silly for me to write a whole review of a book when I could basically sum it up as, what Jess said.

Link Dump

I’ve had some of these links saved for ages, so… uh, apologies for the out of date conversations? All still interesting, though!

Yoko Ono: A Feminist Analysis

And realizing that Yoko wasn’t to blame for the Beatles breakup makes you ask a question. Why does the myth persist?

I had come to believe that most Beatles historians and true, educated fans had wised up enough to see the Yoko charade for what it is. So imagine my disappointment when proven wrong. Earlier this year, I finished Bob Spitz’s biography The Beatles, which is arguably the most comprehensive Beatles biography in existence. The book starts out amazingly, but about halfway through inexplicably begins to decline rapidly in the number of details provided once the Beatles become famous. That was annoying. But far more so was the unabashed, unapologetic and shameful smearing of Yoko Ono — made even worse by its presentation as fact when so clearly Spitz’s personal opinion. And this opinion is indicative, I think, of the opinion of most Yoko haters ….

So who is the main purveyor of the Yoko myths? Can we pin it on historians like Bob Spitz? Certainly, they hold part of the blame and need to be called out on it. But no, I blame someone else entirely for the bulk of the treatment and misogynistic cultural perceptions of Yoko Ono, as did John. In the first/next part of this series, they are the people who I’m going to discuss. And their names are Paul, George and Ringo.

Indeed. It was heartbreaking for me to realize, as I went through my Beatles Phase, that they were actually kind of dicks, and definitely abusers. Trying to reconcile that with my emotional investment in them, and their historical significance… well, I still struggle with that. It sucks to realize that people you idolize aren’t perfect, and can be outright nasty.

Anyway, all the Yoko hate out there started to bother me a few years ago, and it took awhile for me to twig to why. This pretty much sums it up — plus the cultural narrative that women ruin and destroy (see also: Eve, Pandora). Definitely worth a read.

The War on Critical Thinking and Evolving Social Mores

Talk about out of date. Apparently last October, some jackass wrote an essay about how scifi is being feminized and that’s ruining the genre and also the world! Because science! You see, if girl cooties get into genre fiction, no boys will want to be scientists, and then there will be no scientists. If only the BSG remake hasn’t made Starbuck a woman!

Need I say that the Smart Bitches takedown is great?

Why I’m Team Katniss

The thing is, I can’t get past the feeling that focusing on the love triangle somehow dismisses the central point of the series. Sure, it’s a very commercial, mainstream series that is clearly meant to be a page-turning, engrossing experience. But it’s also about war, violence, mortality, and inequality. I’m a fan of The Hunger Games because of the way the books deal with these issues in such a readable yet thought-provoking (and gut-wrenching) way.

I’ve been trying for ages to put my finger on why “team” terminology bothers me when it comes to YA fiction. I don’t care, like, at all about Twilight, but that actually is a romance, but for series like Hunger Games and or Scott Westerfeld’s Pretties, both series in which I’ve seen this (and I’m sure there are more), it’s really bothered me. I know romances are compelling and even necessary for some readers (I enjoy them but don’t find them necessary to enjoy a story, personally) but to me that feels reductive. These stories aren’t about which guy the heroine ends up with. In life-or-death adventures, it really bothers me that the narrative around girls is romance, no matter how much ass they kick.

Basically, Malinda Lo says that. But way more eloquently. Totally worth a read.

Contest! That I’m entering!

The last time I entered a contest by linking from here, I won! So what the heck, I’ll try it again for the giveaway of an ARC I really want to get my hands on:

Blue Fire by Janice HardyPart fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.

Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer — if she doesn’t destroy it first.

Buy it online at: Barnes & Noble   Amazon     Or These Fine Retailers.

(In case you are wondering, I loved the first book and highly recommend it.)

Okay, y’all. That’s all I’ve got. Happy Labor Day.

#31: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry by Simone ElkelesAuuugh, I am so far behind on my book reviews! That was bound to happen eventually, though, as I’m basically the worst blogger ever. So here goes. Perfect Chemistry is another book I won in Cindy’s awesome giveaway, which is great, because I probably wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise, as I don’t read much contemporary YA.

Basically: Perfect Chemistry is a YA romance in which Brittany, all-around perfect rich girl and captain of the pom squad, and Alex, a Latino gang member from the wrong part of town, are paired together to do a chemistry project. (Get the title now? Huh, do you?) They can’t stop fighting, but it’s all secretly foreplay and the sexual tension runs wild. Things don’t go well, though, when Brittany’s family life turns out to not be so perfect at all, and Alex’s gang wants him to take the leap into drug deals and murder. Can two such different people with such different problems ever find happiness together?


Spoiler Inside Show

I really, really enjoyed this book. It hit on a bunch of my favorite tropes: Alex is secretly very smart and is only in the gang to protect his family, and he’ll do anything to keep his brothers out of it! He’s tough on the outside but has a soft and sweet center, like some kind of gourmet candybar! And, uh, let’s not analyze exactly why rich girl/poor boy (and good girl/bad boy, or in this case head cheerleader/gang member) romance set ups appeal to me too much, okay? And I love, love, love “we bicker because of our sexual tension.” It’s kind of my favorite romance trope of all.1 This book basically gave me everything I want in a romance and was incredibly fun to read.

General spoilers after this cut. (more…)

  1. No lie, The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite romance of all time.